The iPad has yet to arrive but developers are already releasing tablet versions or new titles. A big question for coders is how much value iPad customers will find in the new mobile platform? Developers must wait and see whether users accept a price range more towards computer software or that of iPhone apps.
The place to look for this trend is the Top Grossing page at the iTunes Store, which ranks apps by total dollar sales rather than just by units (a.k.a. downloads). Here's the current short list:
1. Pages (Apple) $9.99 2. Numbers (Apple) $9.99 3. Keynote (Apple) $9.99 4. OmniGraffle (The Omni Group) $49.99 5. Scrabble for iPad (Electronic Arts) $9.99 6. At Bat 2010 for iPad (MLB.com) $14.99 7. Things for iPad (Cultured Code) $19.99 8. The Elements: A Visual Exploration (Element Collection) $13.99 9. Plants vs Zombies (PopCap Games) $9.99 10. SketchBook Pro (AutoDesk) $7.99
Of course, one price tag sticks way out of the list: The Omni Group's OmniGraffle. This is the iPad version of the popular Mac OS X vector-based general-purpose drawing tool that makes visualization, flow charts and diagrams a snap. OmniGraffle is what Microsoft Visio wants to be.
When talking with Ken Case, Omni's chairman and CEO, I asked whether users will express a price sensitivity to iPad and computer versions. He pointed out that OmniGraffle is a professional tool.
"It really is a professional tool that people can use a lot of their productivity throughout the day. If you're using it to get your productive work done 8 hours a day, then $50 isn't at all an expensive thing," he said.
He's talking about the iPad version here; the standard Mac version is $99 and the professional edition costs $199. And in a demonstration, I could see how much could be done with the iPad software; it's very capable.
In fact, iPad Windows users may be in store for a productivity boost from this iPad version of a Mac-only product.
Case echoed that thought with a hope is that customers will consider the cost of iPad apps in a "wider context," meaning the value of desktop applications or even for comparable Windows software. For example, he said, Windows Visio is way more expensive, between $259.95 (Standard Full) and $559.95 (Professional Full) and harder to use.
In addition, the iPad version offers something special for a graphical business visualization product such as OmniGraffle: close collaboration. The iPad is capable of easy collaboration, much more so than a notebook.
Case said that the company's engineers sat down and made mockups of iPads, thought about how they would use them and brought them to meetings. He expected it to be a winner for business collaboration.
"It's a canvas that you can draw on, not a screen that separates you from the person across the table. They know what you are doing and they can draw upon it as well," he said.
Two people can hand it off, back and forth. This is an exciting prospect. An exciting business prospect.